Traditionally, magicians don’t reveal their tricks, but, lucky for you, I’m not an actual sorcerer. (I just practice the dark chocolate arts from time to time.) Recently, I concocted a mysterious but incredibly delicious cake recipe that's sure to defy what you think you know about baking. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, gather around for the most magical bake! You'll have to taste it to believe it.
The recipe starts out like all good magic tricks do, very simply. A silky chocolate cake batter is poured into a pan. Then, you top it with a concoction of brown sugar and cocoa powder. Strange? It gets even more mysterious. Next, you drown the top of the cake with hot water straight from the cauldron (or just regular hot tap water works fine), say a spell (this is optional, but I recommend it), wave your magic wand (or rubber spatula), pop the cake into the oven for twenty minutes, and bippidty boopity boo.
What comes out of the oven looks like a perfectly baked chocolate cake, but there’s a shocking surprise underneath. A hot, bubbly, molten layer of chocolate fudge. Is there an explanation for this? I'm sure. But, like most magic tricks, it’s probably more fun not to know. —Grant Melton
cocoa powder, divided
butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8x8 squash baking pan or 9-inch cake pan and set aside.
Place flour, sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk. Using an electric mixer, beat in the butter and milk and mix until smooth and lump-free. Pour the batter into the buttered pan and place onto a cookie sheet, just in case the batter bubbles over a bit. Set aside.
In a small bowl, using a fork, mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of cocoa powder and the brown sugar. Sprinkle the mixture over top of the cake batter in a flat even layer. Pour the hot water over top and immediately place into the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes. The cake should still be jiggly but dry and shiny on top and bubbly around the edges. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for just a few minutes. Scoop the warm mixture into bowl and top with a scoop of ice cream.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.